Type of Presentation

Poster

Session Title

General Habitat Topics

Description

Marine bird surveys are primarily conducted during diurnal periods, thus our understanding of their ecology and distribution is biased; our understanding of Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) distribution is no different. Diurnal data currently guides conservation and management decisions regarding this declining species. Our research objectives were to 1) determine nocturnal use area habitat characteristics in the Salish Sea, 2) determine influencing factors of selection of nocturnal use, and 3) develop predictive models to estimate likely nocturnal use areas across the Salish Sea and assess vulnerabilities to potential oils spills or increased shipping traffic. We used existing Surf Scoter Platform Terminal Transmitter (PTT) data, provided by The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and various spatial layers in a GIS to identify habitat characteristics of nocturnal locations and to measure distances traveled between diurnal foraging and nocturnal resting areas. Results indicated that Scoters will travel an average of 3,967 m from diurnal foraging areas to nocturnal habitats. We implemented a use versus pseudo-non-use resource selection design, using logistic regression, and Akaike’s information criterion (AIC) to create a predictive model for nocturnal Scoter presence in the Salish Sea. Our resulting model identified distance to shore, water depth, tidal current and vessel traffic as strong predictors of nocturnal presence. Determining marine nocturnal use habitat characteristics fills an important data gap in understanding the winter ecology of Surf Scoters. Our results provide guidance for better management of over-wintering seabirds in the Salish Sea and inform oil spill response preparedness efforts.

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Nocturnal Habitat Selection of Wintering Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) in the Salish Sea

2016SSEC

Marine bird surveys are primarily conducted during diurnal periods, thus our understanding of their ecology and distribution is biased; our understanding of Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) distribution is no different. Diurnal data currently guides conservation and management decisions regarding this declining species. Our research objectives were to 1) determine nocturnal use area habitat characteristics in the Salish Sea, 2) determine influencing factors of selection of nocturnal use, and 3) develop predictive models to estimate likely nocturnal use areas across the Salish Sea and assess vulnerabilities to potential oils spills or increased shipping traffic. We used existing Surf Scoter Platform Terminal Transmitter (PTT) data, provided by The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and various spatial layers in a GIS to identify habitat characteristics of nocturnal locations and to measure distances traveled between diurnal foraging and nocturnal resting areas. Results indicated that Scoters will travel an average of 3,967 m from diurnal foraging areas to nocturnal habitats. We implemented a use versus pseudo-non-use resource selection design, using logistic regression, and Akaike’s information criterion (AIC) to create a predictive model for nocturnal Scoter presence in the Salish Sea. Our resulting model identified distance to shore, water depth, tidal current and vessel traffic as strong predictors of nocturnal presence. Determining marine nocturnal use habitat characteristics fills an important data gap in understanding the winter ecology of Surf Scoters. Our results provide guidance for better management of over-wintering seabirds in the Salish Sea and inform oil spill response preparedness efforts.